PMID: 45847Jan 1, 1975

The role of cortical orientation in the control of the direction of ciliary beat in Paramecium

The Journal of Cell Biology
S L TammR V Dippell


The swimming behavior of many ciliate protozoans depends on graded changes in the direction of the ciliary effective stroke in response to depolarizing stimuli (i.e., the avoiding reaction of Paramecium). We investigated the problem of whether the directional response of cilia with a variable plane of beat is related to the polarity of the cell as a whole or to the orientation of the cortical structures themselves. To do this, we used a stock of Paramecium aurelia with part of the cortex reversed 180 degrees. We determined the relation of the orientation of the kineties (ciliary rows) to the direction of beat in these mosaic paramecia by cinemicrography of particle movements near living cells and by scanning electron microscopy of instantaneously fixed material. We found that the cilia of the inverted rows always beat in the direction opposite to that of normally oriented cilia during both forward and backward swimming. In addition, metachronal waves of ciliary coordination were present on the inverted patch, travelling in the direction opposite to those on the normal cortex. The reference point for the directional response of Paramecium cilia to stimuli thus resides within the cilia or their immediate cortical surroundings.


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